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Trends in scientific publishing on sustainability in higher education

Leal Filho, W and Wall, T and Salvia, AL and Frankenberger, F and Hindley, A and Mifsud, M and Brandli, L and Will, M (2021) Trends in scientific publishing on sustainability in higher education. Journal of Cleaner Production, 296. ISSN 0959-6526

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Abstract

It is widely acknowledged that research and publications in peer reviewed journals offer important metrics in describing the academic outputs of higher education institutions on one hand, and their societal impacts on the other. Peer review is a well-tested method for quality control and has been successfully deployed over many decades in academic journals worldwide. But despite the fact that publications on matters related to sustainable development offer solid evidence of academic activity and excellence, there is a dearth of literature in this field. In order to address this need, the European School of Sustainability Science and Research (ESSSR) and the Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme (IUSDRP) have undertaken the World Survey on Sustainability Publishing and Research in Higher Education (WSSSP-HEI). The paper has two main aims. The first is to document and showcase trends in scientific publishing on matters related to sustainable development. The second aim is to contribute to a greater understanding of this rapidly growing field, by describing the latest developments and the role played by some of the journals active in this area. Consistent with these aims, this paper focuses on publications on sustainability in higher education, describes the methods used in the study and some of its results. It can be seen that despite the intrinsic value of research on sustainable development in higher education as a whole, and of publications in this field in particular, such practices are not as widely developed as one could expect. This paper discusses the possible reasons and also outlines some measures via which higher education institutions may be able to take more advantage of the many opportunities that publishing on sustainability offers to them.

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